Thursday, April 4, 2024

Donald The Menace

 Every day, former President Donald Trump gets a little more insane.  Sarah D. Wire (LOS ANGELES TIMES) reports:

Members of the House committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol have warned America for three years to take former President Donald Trump at his word.
Now, as Trump is poised to win the Republican presidential nomination, his criminal trials face delays that could stall them past election day, and his rhetoric grows increasingly authoritarian, some of those lawmakers find themselves following their own advice.

In mid-March, Trump said on social media that the committee members should be jailed. In December he vowed to be a dictator on "day one." In August, he said he would "have no choice" but to lock up his political opponents.

"If he intends to eliminate our constitutional system and start arresting his political enemies, I guess I would be on that list,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose). “One thing I did learn on the committee is to pay attention and listen to what Trump says, because he means it.”

Lofgren added that she doesn't yet have a plan in place to thwart potential retribution by Trump. But Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), who has long been a burr in Trump's side, said he’s having “real-time conversations” with his staff about how to make sure he stays safe if Trump follows through on his threats.

“We're taking this seriously, because we have to,” Schiff said. "We've seen this movie before … and how perilous it is to ignore what someone is saying when they say they want to be a dictator.”

The bipartisan Jan. 6 select committee, which included Schiff and Lofgren, spent months investigating the attack that left five people dead and more than 150 police officers injured as Trump supporters stormed the Capitol while Congress was certifying Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election. The committee's blockbuster broadcast hearings and an 845-page final report set the narrative that Trump knew he had fairly lost the election but pursued a scheme to keep himself in power anyway.

A Justice Department investigation by special counsel Jack Smith was expected to be the legal confirmation of what the committee found, setting up the potential for a criminal conviction against Trump for attempting to subvert the election.

He truly is a menace.  And the notion that he could have four more years is frightening.  If he wanted to lead the country, he could have done that by not running.  He could have talked of the need for the country to heal.  But it is always about Donald Trump in his mind, not about the needs of America.  

Trump defended Truth Social in two posts early this morning ranting about his social media platform. Trump claimed "all the competitors to Truth Social ...are failing at every level" and are using a "disinformation machine" to convince people" that Truth Social "is not such a big deal." Trump could be reacting to the falling stock price and looking for someone to blame, which would never be himself.  

Trump said Truth Social "is the primary way I get the word out" that "people want to hear what I have to say, perhaps, according to experts, more than anyone else in the world." Trump says the other social media platforms wish they could have him back, but he "was cancelled for largely political reason."

Yeah, his social media posts led to January 6th when his followers hoped storming the capitol would keep Trump in power. 

And I love this sentence in the report, "Trump is a threat to democracy and gets coverage like all dangerous things gets coverage, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, earthquakes."

Now on to a different topic.  I wrote about D.C. and the cherry blossom trees not long ago.   Chi e-mailed to note Lee Hae-rin (KOREA TIMES) about these cherry trees which are also in Yeouido:

These cherry blossoms of Yeouido are quite similar to those around the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, in many ways. They both originate from Japan, attract millions of tourists every peak bloom season and foresee their last blooms this spring.

Despite some similarities, feelings toward them are completely different in both cities due to historical reasons.

The trees in Tidal Basin in the U.S. capital were gifts from Japan to the United States as a symbol of international friendship in 1912. There are approximately 3,800 of the trees within the park under the maintenance of the National Park Service of the United States.

Locals and tourists have celebrated cherry trees’ blooming “in solidarity” for over a century, according to the National Park Service. One of the trees even went viral and became a social media sensation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This much-beloved tree is known as “Stumpy,” nicknamed by a Redditor who joked that the scraggly tree with its rotting trunk and single branch looks as dead as his love life. Despite its dowdy appearance, the tree continues to bloom year after year while also becoming an object of public sympathy.

For years, visitors waited in line to snap a picture with Stumpy while some fans even made T-shirts and calendars of the iconic tree to call for its preservation.

Although these trees’ average lifespan is around 60 years, the National Park Service planted hundreds of descendants from the 1912 donation to carry on the genetic lineage of the original trees.

Nevertheless, to many admirers’ dismay, 158 of these beloved trees including Stumpy will be cut down in June as part of the National Park Service’s $113 million repair of the Tidal Basin's seawalls slated to begin in May. Due to rising sea levels from the climate crisis, the water level of the Potomac River has gone up by more than a foot and regular surges of tidal waters over the barriers have soaked some of the trees’ roots.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, April 4, 2024.  The world continues to be outraged by the murder of the 7 aid workers with World Central Kitchen who were killed by Israeli forces. 

Starting with the topic of the aid workers with World Central Kitchen killed this week in Gaza by Israeli soldiers despite their vehicle being clearly marked, despite providing their location to the Israeli government.  The seven aid workers killed brought the number of aid workers killed in Gaza by the Israeli government to at least 196.   Yesterday, the founder of WCK Jose Andres spoke to the press.

One day after President Joe Biden said he was “outraged and heartbroken” over an Israel Defense Force attack that killed seven World Central Kitchen team members distributing food in Gaza, WCK founder José Andrés gave an emotional interview to Reuters in which he said, “What I know is that we were targeted deliberately, nonstop until everybody was dead in this convoy.”

[. . .]

Asked if he believed that official explanation, the celebrity chef responded, “Initially, I would say categorically no,” reiterating that WCK communicated its movements to the IDF, it was in a zone controlled by the IDF and the convoy was clearly marked with his organization’s logo posted even on the roofs of some vehicles.“This was not just a bad luck situation where ‘oops’ we dropped the bomb in the wrong place,” Andres told Reuters.

“This was over a 1.5, 1.8 kilometers, with a very defined humanitarian convoy that had signs in the top, in the roof, a very colorful logo” he said. It was “very clear who we are and what we do.”

In a separate interview with Israel's Channel 12 news, Mr Andrés said "it was really a direct attack on clearly marked vehicles whose movements were known by everybody at the IDF [Israel Defense Forces]".

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Today, the bodies of foreign aid workers killed in an Israeli strike early yesterday morning have left Gaza and are being flown to their home countries.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    They worked for World Central Kitchen, whose founder today accused Israel of targeting his employees deliberately. That's an accusation that Israel denies.

    Nick Schifrin starts our coverage.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    He had flown 7,800 miles from home to help feed the hungry. Today, he began his final journey home, pushed out of a morgue.

    American-Canadian Jacob Flickinger was 33 years old. He leaves behind his partner, Sandy, and their 1-year-old boy. With him as he crossed the Egyptian border today, his friends in life and death, Australian Lalzawmi Frankcom, known as Zomi, Damian Sobol from Poland, and their British security team, John Chapman, James Henderson, and James Kirby, whose cousin today remembered him as someone who wanted to help.

  • Man:

    He was completely selfless, which explains why he went to Gaza.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    World Central Kitchen, or WCK, says it coordinated with the Israeli military late Monday night as a convoy left its warehouse in Deir al Balah by the sea in Central Gaza.

    The group says Israeli munitions hit an initial vehicle. Workers then moved to another vehicle that was struck and then a third vehicle that was struck as they traveled on or next to the coastal road that Israel designates for humanitarian aid.

  • Jose Andres, Founder, World Central Kitchen:

    We were targeted deliberately, nonstop, until everybody was dead in this convoy.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Jose Andres is the founder of World Central Kitchen. He's a celebrity chef whose activism and charity has earned him deep respect among policymakers. The group also fed Israelis after Hamas' October 7 terrorist attack. He spoke to Reuters today.

  • Jose Andres:

    It looks like it's not a war against terrorism anymore. Seems this is a war against humanity itself.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Israel denies that accusation and says it takes pain to limit civilian casualties.

    In response to the attack, it opened a joint situation room with international humanitarian groups and launched an investigation, whose initial finding was laid out last night by chief of the general staff, Lieutenant-General Herzi Halevi.

    Lt. Gen, Herzi Halevi, Chief of Staff, Israeli Defense Forces: It was a mistake that followed a misidentification at night during a war in a very complex condition.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    And, today, a U.S. official confirms that President Biden will speak with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tomorrow.

Last night's "tomorrow" is today.  And the attack was Tuesday.  The murders took place on two days ago.  The optics are not good for Joe.  Victor Nava (NEW YORK POST) notes:

President Biden has received criticism from Democrats and Republicans this week over his response to an Israeli airstrike that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers in Gaza on Monday. 

On Tuesday, Biden, 81, said he was “outraged and heartbroken” over the deaths of the aid workers delivering food to Gaza’s population, but didn’t signal any change in approach to his administration’s backing of Israel in its war against Hamas. 

The president, in his public statement, pinned the blame squarely on Israel, demanding an investigation that “must bring accountability” and accusing the Jewish state of not having “done enough to protect aid workers” in the Palestinian territory. 

Privately, Politico reports, Biden is “enraged” over the airstrike and was “angry” when he was notified that the Israel Defense Forces mistakenly targeted members of celebrity chef Jose Andres’ humanitarian group.  

Jon Favreau, a one time speechwriter for former President Barack Obama and the host of “Pod Save America,” slammed Biden over the report, arguing that private expressions of rage are not enough in the aftermath of Monday’s tragedy. 

“The President doesn’t get credit for being ‘privately enraged’ when he still refuses to use leverage to stop the IDF from killing and starving innocent people,” Favreau wrote on X.

“These stories only make him look weak,” he added. 

Democratic Michigan state Rep. Abraham Aiyash argued that “Deeds are more important than dialogue” in a tweet aimed at Biden

“The President is prioritizing Netanyahu’s Israel over the preservation of innocent life and basic human decency – and risks unraveling American democracy because of it,” he added. 

Let's note this from yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

Israel is facing global condemnation over the killing of seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen who had brought food into Gaza by ship to feed starving Palestinians. The aid workers were killed when an Israeli drone fired three missiles at the group’s clearly marked convoy, even though the charity had coordinated the convoy’s route with the Israeli military. At the United Nations, Secretary-General António Guterres condemned the Israeli attack.

SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES: The devastating Israeli airstrikes that killed World Central Kitchen personnel yesterday bring the number of aid workers killed in this conflict to 196, including more than 175 members of our own U.N. staff. This is unconscionable, but it is an inevitable result of the way the war is being conducted.

AMY GOODMAN: The killed aid workers included three British nationals, an Australian, a Polish national, an American-Canadian dual citizen and a Palestinian. In a video address, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed Israel attacked the convoy.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: [translated] Unfortunately, in the last day there was a tragic case of our forces unintentionally hitting innocent people in the Gaza Strip. This happens in wartime. We are thoroughly looking into it, are in contact with the foreign governments of those killed, and will do everything to ensure it does not happen again.

AMY GOODMAN: “This happens in wartime.” Meanwhile, President Biden said he was, quote, “outraged and heartbroken” over the deaths, but at a White House press briefing, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby refused to say if Israel had broken international law.

NIALL STANAGE: Is firing a missile at people delivering food and killing them not a violation of international humanitarian law?

JOHN KIRBY: Well, the Israelis have already admitted that this was a mistake that they made. They’re doing an investigation. They’ll get to the bottom of this. Let’s not get ahead of that. … The State Department has a process in place. And to date, as you and I are speaking, they have not found any incidents where the Israelis have violated international humanitarian law.

AMY GOODMAN: On Tuesday, Chef José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen and at least two other groups said they would pause operations in Gaza after the attack. Meanwhile, HuffPost reports a group of U.S. officials at USAID have privately warned the Biden administration the spread of hunger and malnutrition in Gaza is unprecedented in modern history and that parts of Gaza are already experiencing famine.

For more, we go to Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, speaking to us from Oslo, Norway.

Jan, thanks for joining us again. Can you start off by responding to the Israeli airstrike on the three-car convoy that killed seven international aid workers?

JAN EGELAND: It was horrific. And remember, this was targeted. It was repeated attacks — first one car, then the next car, then the third car, and a couple of the cars were targeted several times. It’s not likely that the Israelis wanted to kill the colleagues from World Central Kitchen. World Central Kitchen had worked closely with the Israeli forces to get out support to Palestinians in northern Gaza. But they surely hit cars that they did not know what was inside. And that’s the story of this war.

So, when the State Department is saying, “We cannot see any violations of humanitarian law,” they haven’t read the humanitarian law, because there has to be precaution, there has to be distinction between military and civilians, and there has to be proportionality. And after thousands of dead children, thousands of dead women — all completely innocent of the 7th of October — hundreds of doctors, hundreds of nurses, hundreds of teachers and 200 humanitarian workers, before the international workers were killed, it’s very clear that this has been a disproportionate response to what happened, the horrors of the 7th of October, in violation of international law, every day, basically, since mid-October.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Jan Egeland, in that vein, I’d like to ask you — excuse me — about a recent report in The Observer over the weekend, in England, that a member of Parliament, Alicia Kearns, a Conservative Party member and the chair of the House of Commons select committee, was at a fundraiser, and there was a leaked tape of her remarks there. And she said, in that leaked tape, that the British Foreign Office has received official legal advice that Israel has broken international humanitarian law, but that the government has not announced it and has kept it quiet. I’m wondering, especially in view of the fact that three British nationals were killed in this latest attack, your response to the fact that the British government is hiding the fact its own lawyers have said Israel is violating international law.

JAN EGELAND: Well, I just met Alicia Kearns in London, and she’s a very fine politician. She went to Rafah. She saw all of the trucks that were lining up, not able to go into Gaza. She wrote letters about that to both the U.K. government, and she approached the Israelis. I mean, she is really engaged on this, as so many others have become as they see the injustice in what’s happening to the population of Gaza. Whether the U.K. government is concealing advice on this, I cannot say. But the facts speak for themselves. If you have a conflict where there is a world record in killing protected categories of personnel, then the law is broken, you know, to pieces. There’s no other way to see it.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to a tweet where you said, “The US, the UN, the EU and the rest of the world agree that we are at the brink of famine in Northern Gaza. Still, only 159 trucks were allowed into Gaza yesterday and Israel blocks all food convoys from UNRWA to reach North Gaza. There must be accountability for this.” Then you go on in another tweet to say, “The horrific, targeted, repeated attack that killed 7 WCK aid workers follow nearly 200 Palestinian humanitarians killed by Israel’s military campaign. Now — FINALLY — Western govts providing arms to the killing say 'enough.' … Immediate ceasefire ending the killing of civilians–A protection scheme that guarantees safety for humanitarian work–Opening of land crossings for massive aid to the North–ending chaotic air & sea delivery–No military invasion of the world’s largest refugee camp: Rafah.” You tweeted that.

In the United States, President Biden talked about being heartbroken, but, as The New York Times reports, Biden administration is pressing Congress on $18 billion sale of F-15 jets to Israel. This follows the deal made with F-35 jets and many 2,000-pound bombs and 500-pound bombs. Can you respond to the U.S. and other countries supplying these weapons at this point to Israel?

JAN EGELAND: Well, my own country, Norway, a NATO country, has refrained from sending arms to Israel for quite some time. So has many other countries. It is really mind-boggling if the U.S. now sends these large bombs, that are by nature indiscriminate, to a place with so many thousands of dead children. Are they not thinking of the consequences for their moral authority in the rest of the world? What does this mean for the West’s arguments in Ukraine? If it is wrong, as it is, for Russia to occupy Ukrainian territory, kill Ukrainian civilians, target Ukrainian infrastructure, how could it possibly be correct when the Israelis do the same to the Palestinians, and with U.S. arms?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Jan Egeland, I’d like to ask you, the — your organization, like others, that provide assistance in Gaza, have to coordinate your activities, obviously, with the Israeli military. What does this latest attack mean for those future efforts, when, clearly, even organizations that coordinate closely with the military so that they’re not attacked end up being still attacked?

JAN EGELAND: Well, we have coordinated with Israel now for many years. I was myself in Gaza to travel to Rafah and traveled around in Rafah. And we sought permission, as we have to, by Israel. Israel controls everything going in and everyone going into Gaza. And we also coordinated my movements there. Nothing happened to me. Nothing really has happened to our NRC convoys, aid operations. But we are largely in the southern third of Gaza, where the majority of the Palestinians are.

I think the whole thing shows the horrific killing of seven of my colleagues in the World Central Kitchen, that I know well. I saw their good operations. I ate one of their meals when I was in Rafah. It was a very good meal. And the Palestinians, whom they feed millions of meals every day, rely on this. I think what’s happened will lead to a reboot of the system for protection for humanitarian work. The U.S., U.K., Germany and others cannot live with a war machine out of control that is sort of targeting cars without knowing what’s inside, as they did in this case and in multiple other cases. So I think there will be a new and better deconfliction or notification system, coordination system — there are many names for them — even in the northern parts of Gaza, where it has been most dangerous.

AMY GOODMAN: The World Central Kitchen boat still had 240 tons of food on board the boat. It left Gaza Tuesday. The WCK says they’re suspending operations. Other groups say that. What about the Norwegian Refugee Council? And can you talk about this in conjunction with the defunding of UNRWA, the kind of umbrella that facilitates all of this, what this means as the region descends, the Strip descends into famine?

JAN EGELAND: Yeah, the World Central Kitchen is withdrawing. So are some other groups, which is terrible, because they were important for our collected efforts to avoid famine in Gaza. NRC, my own Norwegian Refugee Council, we are not leaving. We are continuing to work today and tomorrow. We have, however, suspended some of our movements, and we’re not going north for the time being, because it’s considered too difficult, too dangerous. Israel is not allowing conditions for that. And it’s in the north, the remaining population there, that is engulfed in the worst famine.

UNRWA is the backbone, really, of social services for the Palestinians. It was created by the United States and the other original members of the United Nations when Israel was created and it led to the Nakba and hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees. UNRWA was created by all of us to take care of the Palestinians that were suffering because of the Holocaust in Europe and the creation of Israel. Since then, UNRWA has become essential in Gaza. They are much bigger than all of the others combined — NRC, the other U.N. agencies, World Central Kitchen, etc., etc., etc. We’re not even half of what UNRWA is. So, when the U.S. Congress and the Biden administration says, “We’re not going to give you money,” and so are — so was a number of other donors, because of allegations — no evidence provided — allegations that some of these 13,000 staff, a dozen, dirty dozen, perhaps participated in the horrors of the 7th of October, you can’t believe that our very own donors make it difficult for us to help the Palestinian population. UNRWA is essential. UNRWA needs to be funded. Stop the games with politicizing aid to children.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think the U.S. should stop weapons sales and weapons transfers to Israel?

JAN EGELAND: I cannot see any nation giving arms to any war where there are these kind of casualties among children, women, aid workers, journalists. Colleagues of you, Amy, are killed en masse in Gaza. No, yeah, of course they shouldn’t give arms to that. They could have their fingerprints all over a crime scene.

AMY GOODMAN: Jan Egeland, we want to thank you for being with us, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Next up, we look at a new Israeli law which Prime Minister Netanyahu says he will use to ban Al Jazeera. Stay with us.

Every time we travel [within Gaza], we tell the Israeli military. Our information goes to the UN in Jerusalem and they send it to Cogat and the Gaza CLA [two Israeli government bodies] who coordinate with the Israeli military. We do this for every single movement, and we don’t set off until we have confirmation that all the information has been logged.

Our vehicles are clearly marked with Save the Children logos on the roof, sides and bonnet, and sometimes we have little flags attached to the vehicles too. We don’t wear flak jackets and helmets because the Israelis don’t allow us to bring body armour into Gaza through the Rafah crossing [with Egypt]. Very few aid agency staff have body protection.

World Central Kitchen (WCK) has a different way of coordinating its movements with the Israeli military. They’ve developed a good system of direct contact. They’re very well known to the Israelis. They constantly update their movements. That’s why we’re all absolutely shocked at the airstrikes – the fact that it was WCK. It has shaken confidence in the system. I feel quite nervous now, I’ll be honest.

We all expect an increase in international staff who ask to leave. If people want out, that’s their right. If they want to go, it’s my job to get them out.

The day of the airstrikes on the WCK convoy, I sent messages to my family to tell them they were going to hear about aid workers being killed but I was OK. All of us are constantly aware that our families are worried. You think, is it OK for me to put them through this? It’s really tough for families.

I can hear shelling most of the time, and sometimes naval gunfire. But it’s the airstrikes that are really scary. When they’re close, you get windows blown in and you feel shockwaves. 

The worst was when Israeli forces rescued two hostages from a building in Rafah [in February]. They created “distractions” which killed a lot of people. We could hear them coming closer and closer, windows were blowing in. I ended up sheltering in a corridor with others, thinking this is not to be taken lightly.

There is also the sound of drones all the time – a buzzing, like multiple lawnmowers going above your head all night. You just can’t get used to it.

As tragic as the attack on the World Central Kitchen convoy was, it wasn’t unthinkable. That’s because Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza has proven to be one of the most deadly for humanitarian aid workers. Since Israel began its military campaign to root out Hamas from Gaza on Oct. 7, at least 203 aid workers have been killed, according to the Aid Worker Security Database, which tracks attacks on humanitarian relief workers worldwide. This figure is higher than the total number of aid worker fatalities that typically occur annually worldwide.

Arvind Das, the U.S.-based International Rescue Committee’s team lead for the Gaza crisis, tells TIME that while aid workers operating in conflict zones are typically afforded safe access and corridors to deliver essential life-saving services, such assurances have been absent from Israel’s war in Gaza, where the targeting of aid workers has become more of a feature than a bug. There have been multiple instances in which organizations and their staff have been targeted by Israeli military action, including one near-fatal airstrike involving Das. On Jan. 18, he and a group of doctors were on a dual U.S.-U.K.-led medical mission in Gaza when their residential compound housing, which was located within a demarcated safe zone in the coastal town of Al-Mawasi, was hit by an Israeli airstrike with the doctors inside. While the group was lucky to escape with only injuries, Das said it could have easily ended differently. Three months later, the Israeli military has provided no explanation for its targeting of the house, coordinates of which had been shared with Israeli authorities through the U.N.’s deconfliction process. (The Israeli military did not respond to requests for comment.)

“Almost all international organizations at some point or another have faced a similar situation,” Das says, noting that the situation in Gaza is worse than any previous conflict zone he’s been in—a list that includes Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, central Africa, and Ecuador. “It’s not just a one-off incident. That is what is so concerning.”

These threats extend to more than just aid workers. At least 95 journalists have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, in what has been the deadliest period for journalists since the NGO began tracking casualties in 1992. The war has been similarly devastating for healthcare workers. Christina Wille, the director of the humanitarian research organization Insecurity Insight, tells TIME that her organization has identified the location and date of death for at least 176 healthcare workers who have been killed in Gaza, but adds that the true figure is thought to exceed 450.

Gaza remains under assault. Day 181 of  the assault in the wave that began in October.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is grows higher and higher.  United Nations Women noted, "More than 1.9 million people -- 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza -- have been displaced, including what UN Women estimates to be nearly 1 million women and girls. The entire population of Gaza -- roughly 2.2 million people -- are in crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse."  ALJAZEERA notes, "At least 33,037 Palestinians have been killed and 75,668 wounded in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7, its Health Ministry says."   Months ago,  AP  noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 7th, Jeremy Scahill explained on DEMOCRACY NOW! that "there’s an estimated 7,000 or 8,000 Palestinians missing, many of them in graves that are the rubble of their former home."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:

And the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."

There is outrage around the globe and there is outrage in the US.  Monica Alba, Yamiche Alcindor and Elyse Perlmutter-Gumbiner (NBC NEWS) report:

 Just five minutes into a meeting with President Joe Biden, a Palestinian American doctor who has treated gravely injured patients in Gaza couldn’t bear to stay, so he left. 

Dr. Thaer Ahmad, who specializes in emergency medicine, recalled getting emotional when talking about the many Palestinians he cared for, describing the scale of death in the six months since the war began. 

“The decision to leave was a personal one,” he told NBC News in a phone interview, explaining he wanted to show the White House that “it was important to recognize the pain and the mourning that my community was in.” 

Ahmad stressed that he wanted “to let the administration feel the way that we felt this past six months and kind of get up and walk away from them.” 

He was one of only six Muslim American community leaders who attended a small meeting on Tuesday with Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and senior administration officials at the White House. 

Many others who had been invited to attend declined, according to multiple sources familiar with the outreach, underscoring the deepening tensions between the administration and the Muslim and Arab American communities over the president’s support of Israel in its bombardment of Gaza. More than 30,000 people have died, according to health officials, since Hamas’ terrorist attacks in Israel on Oct. 7 and the group is still holding more than 100 hostages captive.

Another doctor who attended was taken aback when she showed Biden prints of photos of malnourished children and women in Gaza — to which Biden responded that he had seen those images before. The problem, the doctor said, was that she had printed the photos from her own iPhone.

"This speaks volumes to the dismissive nature of the administration when it comes to strong-willed action towards a permanent cease-fire or, at a bare minimum, a red line on the invasion of Rafah," Dr. Nahreen H. Ahmed told NBC News.

Before leaving the meeting early, Ahmad handed a letter to the president from an 8-year-old orphan in Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza. 

“There is an incredible amount of urgency around this,” Ahmad said, expressing deep skepticism that Israel’s military campaign can be done “in a sophisticated or tactical way” that doesn’t put innocent civilians at risk.  

During the 90-minute meeting, which took place behind closed doors, Biden told attendees that he will not call for a permanent cease-fire between Israel and Hamas until all the remaining hostages are released, according to two people familiar with his comments. 

With votes still being counted in Tuesday's presidential primary in Wisconsin, the movement to protest President Biden at the ballot box in response to his handling of the war in Gaza has exceeded its own expectations.

With more than 90 percent of the votes counted, the "uninstructed" option on Democratic presidential primary ballots has garnered more than 47,000 votes, according to results from The Associated Press. That's just over 8 percent of the Democratic presidential primary vote counted so far.

Those margins may change as more votes are counted.

The final number has now reached 47,846 votes for "uninstructed."

On politics, Mike's "Idiot of the Mid-Week" calls out Anthony Zenkus -- one time COMMON DREAMS contributor who now apparently just Tweets.  Mike doesn't need to me to say this but he is correct.  Zenkus is embarrassing himself with nonsense -- a lot like that infamous moment he had on Sabby Sabs.  Boo-hoo, mean Democrats are going after Robert Kennedy Junior and Jill Stein.  (He also claims they're going after Cornel West.)  No, efforts to keep them off the ballot are not anti-democratic.  Yes, I get that you think they are, Zenkus.  But Democratic efforts to demand that the laws and rules be followed are not undemocratic.  Rules and laws on candidacy exist for a reason.  If someone wants to run for President of the United States, they need to follow the rules.  

You don't like the rules?  Change them.  But don't whine that Democrats demanding rules for a petition to get on a ballot are followed is somehow undemocratic.

That's nonsense.

Mike's also correct to contrast Zenkus' nonsense with efforts in Ohio to now use a long ignored law to target trans candidates and remove them from the ballot.  Zenkus has nothing to say about that.  But he wants to whine because, apparently, multi-millionaires like Robert Kennedy Junior don't have enough breaks and must get additional privileges and passes in order to run for president.

The following sites updated: